Azerbaijan Table of Contents
In November 1993, Aliyev created the Defense Council to provide him direct oversight of military affairs and to curtail the loss of considerable Azerbaijani territory outside NagornoKarabakh . The new council, which reports to the president, also strengthened Aliyev's control over military and security affairs, which previously had been directed by Prime Minister Huseynov. At its first meeting, the Defense Council replaced the deputy defense ministers in charge of the Border Guards and the general staff, and the council criticized the Council of Ministers for neglecting urgent defense matters. At the end of 1993, Aliyev continued his criticism of widespread draft evasion, appealing particularly to the 10,000 Afghan war veterans in Azerbaijan to reenlist. Penalties for draft evasion and desertion were tightened. At the same time, Aliyev ordered most officers with desk assignments to be deployed to the front lines.
In 1993 Aliyev attempted to establish better relations with Russian military and political officials by rejoining the CIS and signing CIS agreements on multilateral peacekeeping and mutual security policy. He answered nationalist critics by citing the hope that Russia might coax or coerce Armenia and the NagornoKarabakh Armenians into reaching a suitable settlement of the conflict. Some APF members and others denounced these moves as jeopardizing Azerbaijani sovereignty more seriously than did the existing conflict.
In November 1993, the Melli-Majlis approved the Law on Defense, ratifying Aliyev's proposed reforms. Paramilitary forces were officially disbanded, and strenuous efforts were undertaken to increase the size of the military. In early 1994, these measures appeared to help Azerbaijani forces to regain some territory that had been lost in late 1993. These successes were attributed to several factors: Aliyev's success in wooing veterans, including officers, back into military service; increased enlistments and a lower desertion rate; improved morale; a streamlined command system with Aliyev at its head; and training assistance and volunteers from abroad.
Data as of March 1994