March 19 - is the professional holiday of migration bodies’ employees.  11 years ago exactly on that day the State Migration Service was established with the Decree № 560 of President Ilham Aliyev.

AZERTAG presents the article of the Chief of the State Migration Service Firudin Nabiyev on the activity of that institution during last 11 years, as well as works carried out in our country in the field of management and regulation of migration processes.

The development course of our state, founded by Great Leader Heydar Aliyev, was successfully implemented under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev over the past 15 years. Despite the political and economic turmoil and global crises across the world, stability and intensive development have been ensured in our country. In a word, the past period was successful for Azerbaijan. These successes and achievements are clearly visible not only from inside, but also from outside of the country. Azerbaijan is an open country and huge amount of foreign investment has been made in the economy of the country. Today, Azerbaijan has become a venue for the international events.

An intensive expansion of the migration processes is observed in the world in the background of global changes and significant events. Usually a migrant is looking for a dignified life, secure and convenient work. As a result, number of persons who want to become citizens of the stable, developed country, where security is provided at a high level, as well as persons who arrive in our country for residence, education and tourism in search of a dignified life is growing year by year.

No doubt that migration process, which is always playing a major role in the history of the humanity, has turned into a pressing problem in the modern international relations system. Geography and volume of the migration, which is classified with criteria such as legal and illegal, international and domestic, voluntary and forced, permanent and temporary, refugee and asylum seeker, family reunification and “brain drain” have been expanded. New types of migration – migration of highly qualified personnel and migration of unqualified persons, which often gives rise to illegal migration, have emerged. Tendency of forced migration is increased, migration began to attract attention as one of the factors of the social changes in the world. Surely migration plays a major role in demographic processes and creates ethnic-cultural composition of population. The reality is that today migration geopolitics has gained a status of a new direction in the international relations system.

There is a serious approach to the great importance of that actual subject of the modern world in our country, which is on equal member of the international community.

At the time when migration was not so actual issue in the world – on March 19, 2007 President Ilham Aliyev signed the Decree on establishment of the State Migration Service, which is an independent central executive authority.  As a result of the attention and care of the head of state, both the headquarters of the Service and the regional migration departments are equipped with the most modern equipment and necessary conditions have been created to provide professional services to the applicants.

In the past period transparency has been ensured through improvement of the migration management mechanism in our country, as well as facilitation of the procedures on registration upon place of residence of foreigners and stateless persons arriving in the republic and issuance of relevant permits for their legal residence on the territory of the country.

Migration issues are priority in the policy carried out by Azerbaijan. On December 29, 2012 President Ilham Aliyev signed a Decree to approve the "Azerbaijan 2020: A Look into the Future" Development Concept, which reflects the problems of migration as an official state document determining the goals and priorities of the development of our country in the near future. In the Concept, consisting of 11 chapters, an important place occupies the provisions on migration, as a priority of national security. Therefore globalization, which brings great risks, along with a wide range of possibilities, sharply increases trends of liberation of production, commerce, capital flow and labor migration on an international scale. In this regard, in order to open the essence of the problem and to reach the targeted goal in the concept, it was correctly determined that quantitative and qualitative indicators of the population and its structure are the key elements of the national power. Naturally, the protection of gene pool of the Azerbaijani people and such issues as migration and demography are major elements of the national security. During the period covered by the concept, the population of the country is expected to increase by an average of 1.1 percent per year and reach about 10.2 million in 2020. For achieving the goals indicated in the concept, measures are continued to improve the legislative base and enhancing the relevant institutional capacity. This progressive document sets as priority to take relevant measures on the prevention of the flow of illegal labor force from abroad to the country and on strengthening social security of our citizens, which are working abroad. Of course, the State Migration Service spared no effort to fulfill its responsibilities with dignity in this direction.

Under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, migration policy of Azerbaijan is based on the principles of respect to human and citizen rights and freedoms, rule of law, equality before the law and impartiality, ensuring compliance of the migration legislation with generally recognized international legal norms, application of innovative methods in regulation of migration processes and ensuring transparency.

Today fundamental measures are being taken to fulfill demands of the head of state such as careful approach towards citizens, compliance with the rules of ethical conduct by employees, enhancing the level of service, prevention of the circumstances that harms the reputation of the migration service employees.

As one researcher said: “Not everyone is born as migrant, but sooner or later everybody may become a migrant”- it is certainly true. Therefore everybody should treat every foreigner with special care. Unlike Europe and the most of western countries which are speaking about human rights broadly and treating migrants selectively, in our country, where multicultural values and tolerance are the lifestyle, attention and care towards the guest is always a priority. Rights of foreigners and stateless persons are always protected at high level in our country. It is gratifying that no violation of rights in regard to migrants on national, ethnic and religious grounds has been recorded so far in Azerbaijan. 

Though it is painful, it is should be noted that in 2017 more than three thousand illegal migrants and asylum seekers died trying to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Related to that issue, Director General of the International Organization for Migration William Lacy Swing stated that: “We are speaking about it for many years and we will continue to speak: it is already not enough to register that tragic statistics. We must act.”


Approximately a little more than 160 thousand refugees and migrants came to Europe in 2017. In 2016 this figure was 348 thousand persons. While Azerbaijan as a country that has just restored its independence was almost alone with the burden of more than one million refugees and internally displaced persons, there were some European leaders who along with selective attitude to 500-600 thousands forced migrants that escaped to save their lives, said: “we consider those persons not as refugees, but as Muslim occupiers”. Thus efforts to transform Islam factor into tool of geopolitical pressure, as an artificial Islamophobia threat, further aggravated the migration crisis. It seems that one of the main reasons of current migration crisis is problems on migrants’ integration into the receiving community, intolerance and refusal from traditional rules of coexistence.


Under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev nearly 100 settlements have been built for vulnerable refugees and IDPs in the past period. At the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers held on January 10 under the leadership of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev dedicated to the results of socio-economic development of 2017 and objectives for future, the head of state said: “This year, new townships and settlements will be built for IDPs. This year, the number of IDPs to be provided with new apartments will double in comparison with the last year. Whereas, in 2017 we moved 12,000 people to new apartments and houses, this year we plan to increase this figure to at least 20,000. This figure can be even higher.”


During the fighting in April 2016 led by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Supreme Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev, the army was able to restore the resettlement of the occupied village of Jojug Marjanli in the Jabrayil district after the liberation of Leletepe. The restoration of the village of Jojug Marjanli is a historic achievement. A beautiful settlement of 150 houses has been given a new life. At the same time, a new settlement for 1,170 families was built in Shikharkh settlement in 2017. This is also a significant event. As respected President emphasized, not only because a large settlement was created for IDPs, but also because Shikharkh settlement was once under occupation. This territory has been cleared and freed from Armenian invaders, and the establishment of a new large settlement there shows again that Nagorno-Karabakh is our ancestral land. This is the beginning of the Great Return.


Recent chaotic crisis in different countries of the world, recession of separate countries prove that, first of all, development of the society is not possible without providing security. Our country stepped into the new stage of development with the election of Ilham Aliyev as the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan in October, 2003, and he became the symbol of our independent statehood advancing towards future success and progress, who set a goal to organize activity of all government authorities based on national interests, rule of law, the principles of supremacy of human rights and freedoms. Azerbaijan attained great achievements in the area of foreign policy. Today Azerbaijan is known in the world as a country with a great reputation.


There is no doubt that the issue of migration for the world community will remain topical in the coming years due to the lack of solution to the migration crisis in the globalizing world. As that sensitive issue, according to political and geopolitical interests, has become tool of manipulation in different countries.


It is undeniable that deliberate interference in internal affiairs of sovereign states triggers mass migration flow and the destructive results of these processes have impact on all countries. Differences of opinion on migration policies results in some radical measures against mass migration flow both in the European Union and the US which has always made best use of intellectual migration – “brain drain”, which is one of the key directions of migration aimed at geostrategic goals and means of control over economic, informational and ideological area of the geopolitical rival.

Of course, migration is a matter of state security, as well. However, it is an axiom that uncontrolled “grey areas” emerged in conflict zones is used by terrorist organizations, criminal and extremist groups for cross-border movement. Just as 20 per cent territory of Azerbaijan which is under Armenian occupation for more than 25 years as a result of the inefficient activity of the Minsk group, co-chaired by the USA, as well. Needless to say that the international community has not recognized results of the military occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia, on the contrary relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and other documents of international organizations condemns the occupation of Azerbaijani territories and the efforts to change the internationally recognized borders of states using force. The international community has formed clear opinion on Armenia’s aggression policy and Armenian lies. Last year Armenia denounced itself again by committing sabotage in Alkhanli village. The murder of little Zahra and her grandmother demonstrated the real face of Armenian fascism to the whole world. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev delivered significant messages to the international community at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly. During his speech the head of state delivered information on successful reforms carried out in Azerbaijan and once again exposed criminal acts of the criminal administration of Armenia.

Researches show that though the root causes of migration is multidimensional, in reality traditional natural, objective and economic conditions for global migration is currently replaced by geopolitical factors. In the background of these migration becomes directly and indirectly a means for ensuring geopolitical interests and benefits of states. Migration flow is regarded in a manner as one of the grounds for breaking the balance of geopolitical powers in the international arena. Experts consider that migration policy is currently included in the range of interest of the international geopolitical powers and is used as an instrument of geopolitical pressure. Although this fact reduces hopes for resolution of current migration crisis in the near future, it is possible to settle this issue through ending the interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states and the violation of the territorial integrity, fairly resolving the conflicts in the countries of origin of refugees, liberating occupied territories and finally, avoiding the policy of double standards.   

As you know, the current period is full of difficult, critical and complicated events. Matters of concern are quite high both in our region and in the world. Wars, conflicts, bloody clashes, crises – these are the key elements of the current picture of the international affairs. While there were 30 million refugees and IDPs, as well as 25 conflict zones in the world 30 years ago, today there are more than 65 million refugees and IDPs, as well as up to 70 conflict zones. Our country always pursues peaceful policy, calls other states to solidarity and sets a good example to the world. Despite the recent increase in islamofobia trends across the world, the Republic of Azerbaijan declared the year of 2017 as the “Year of Islamic Solidarity” with the relevant Order of President Ilham Aliyev and hosted IV Islamic Solidarity Games. And it is an obvious evidence of the significant mission of Azerbaijan in the world.  

President Ilham Aliyev emphasized: "Taking into account the complex geopolitical situation in the world, the results achieved in our country deserve a high appreciation. All these results have been achieved through the stability. The basis of this stability and successful policy is the union between the government and the people, as well as the support of the people. In 2017, which is characterized as a year of Deep Economic Reforms, Azerbaijan achieved great success in the economic sphere. International financial institutions highly appreciated the processes taking place in Azerbaijan."

Of course, the reforms carried out in our country and the deliberate economic policy is highly appreciated by the world's most influential economic institutions. Thus, according to the Davos World Economic Forum’s report, Azerbaijan has risen to the 35th place among 140 countries in terms of economic competitiveness and maintains its leadership in the CIS. At the same time, according to the World Bank’s “Doing Business 2018” report, Azerbaijan has risen 8 steps and ranks in 57th place among 190 countries and has been identified as one of the three most reformist countries in Europe and Central Asia.

Implementation of major oil and gas projects initiated by Azerbaijan, including TAP, TANAP, Southern Gas Corridor projects, and signing of the new contract with the consortium of leading international energy companies on the extension of the "Contract of the Century", which guarantees the future development, proves the unprecedented role of our country in provision of global energy security by increasing its economic potential. Realization of another project of global significance with the political will and direct initiative of the head of state - the launch of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway which connects Europe and Asia is a great contribution to peace, stability and economic development in the region.

Nevertheless, our country has hosted a number of respected international events over the past period. Due to the highest attention and initiative of President Ilham Aliyev and First Vice-President Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva, Azerbaijan demonstrated a wide scale and spectacular work. As a logical result of comprehensive progress and growth, all this makes people proud and encourages each of us to new achievements. Also, rapid development of the country, implementation of such big projects and organization of international events are another factor which demonstrates the actuality of migration process in Azerbaijan.

As in all areas of the country, international relations of the State Migration Service, which carries out state control over migration processes, have been significantly expanded in recent years, bilateral and multilateral relations have been developed with a number of countries.

Last year, the readmission agreement with Switzerland came into force and the readmission agreement with Montenegro was signed and ratified. The Service carries out joint activities with the relevant government agencies to provide social and economic reintegration of citizens who have already been readmitted to Azerbaijan in accordance with the signed readmission agreements.

The Cooperation Agreement between the State Migration Service and the International Organization for Migration on the implementation of the Pilot Project on Assisting the Voluntary Return of Migrants from Azerbaijan, signed in 2016, has been approved by President Ilham Aliyev and is currently under implementation.

Progressive approach to migration issues and visitors of our country, stability and development in our country, as well as the magnificent nature, has made Azerbaijan attractive for foreigners. Many tourists choose Azerbaijan for recreation. Development of tourism has been identified as a priority field in our country and an e-visa is issued to persons who want to get a visa to Azerbaijan via ASAN visa within 3 hours. Of course, employees of the migration bodies do their best for timely solution of migration-related problems of foreigners visiting our country.

Thus, 2 million 692,219 entries and 2 million 681,391 exits of foreigners from the territory of the country were recorded last year. 794,763 foreigners out of those entered the country applied for registration upon place of stay. SMS received 92,035 applications for stay and residence permits, work permits to carry out paid labour activity on the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, determination of refugee status, as well as acquisition, restoration and termination of the citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Relevant decisions were made about 21,438 foreigners and stateless persons who violated the requirements of the migration legislation. The Call Center of the Service received 107,172 calls.

Consistent measures are taken to eradicate statelessness in Azerbaijan. Another amendment has been made to the legislation of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the sphere of citizenship. Thus, the following provision was added to the Law No. 980-VQD of the Republic of Azerbaijan “On Amendments to the Law “On Citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan”” of February 1, 2018: “In cases envisaged by the international agreements to which the Republic of Azerbaijan is a party, the fact of not affiliation to citizenship of any state, as well as permanent residence in the Republic of Azerbaijan of the person who came to the Republic of Azerbaijan by January 1, 2006 with a passport of former USSR or other document and permanently reside here, as well as is not affiliated to citizenship of any state and does not hold valid identity documents is determined by the court. This provision does not apply to the persons who have voluntarily renounced citizenship of the state to which they belong”. The amendment made to the legislation taking into consideration the significance of the citizenship right, which is one of the fundamental human rights, is a progressive step and establishes legal mechanism to provide such persons with documents and to ensure favorable conditions for them to live in Azerbaijan. Former USSR passports were used in Azerbaijan by the end of 2005, therefore the deadline was set for January 1, 2006. Since that time national passports are used to enter the territory of Azerbaijan. I would like to reiterate that this provision does not apply to persons who voluntarily renounced citizenship of their state.        

As you known participation of the State Migration Service in citizenship issues was ensured in accordance with the Decree of President of Azerbaijan dated March 6, 2008. Since that time, the Service has started to investigate application from individuals and various organizations for acquisition, restoration and termination of Azerbaijani citizenship, as well as establishment of a person`s application to citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The State Migration Service takes fundamental measures to combat the statelessness. In order to strengthen cooperation on raising awareness in the sphere of fight against statelessness and solution of problems arising in the process of determination of the legal status of such persons, as well as effective protection of their rights, the Republic of Azerbaijan acceded to the UNHCR campaign “To end statelessness in 10 years” which yields tangible results. Only in 2017 citizenship affiliation of 31,690 persons were examined and 27,088 persons were recognized as citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Last year 573 persons were admitted to citizenship and the citizenship of 10 persons was restored by relevant orders of the President of Azerbaijan.

Legal awareness-raising campaigns are successfully continued by State Migration Service. The meetings held in majority of regions and cities of the country, as well as higher education institutions, and "Open Door Day" civil forums have a significantly positive impact on eradication of statelessness, as well as provision of the requirements of the migration legislation.

One of the achievements of the Service, which celebrates its 11th anniversary, is that the State Migration Service was among top ranked authorities according to the results of the assessment of the public services according to “ASAN service index” criteria.

These days the holiday atmosphere is observed in the whole migration system. Appreciation of President Ilham Aliyev of the Service, his valuable comments and recommendations is accepted as guiding principles and encourages migration bodies’ employees to greater achievements. Migration employees are always determined to fulfill their duties in line with the current development of our country by uniting around the head of state and to work with more diligence and responsibility. 

Firudin Nabiyev

Chief of the State Migration Service,

II rank state migration service counselor

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