Mehriban Aliyeva

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Mehriban Aliyeva
Mehriban Aliyeva02.jpg
1st Vice President of Azerbaijan
Assumed office
21 February 2017
PresidentIlham Aliyev
Preceded byPosition established
First Lady of Azerbaijan
Assumed role
31 October 2003
PresidentIlham Aliyev
Preceded byHalima Aliyeva (1993)
Personal details
Mehriban Arif qızı Əliyeva

(1964-08-26) 26 August 1964 (age 55)
Baku, Azerbaijan SSR, Soviet Union
Political partyNew Azerbaijan Party
m. 1983)
Alma materAzerbaijan Medical University

Mehriban Arif qizi Aliyeva (née Pashaeva, Azerbaijani: Mehriban Arif qızı Əliyeva (Paşayeva), [mɛhriˈbɑn ɑˈrif ɡɯˈzɯ æˈlijevɑ pɑˈʃɑjevɑ]; born 26 August 1964) is an Azerbaijani physician and ophthalmologist, the First Vice President and First Lady of Azerbaijan, the head of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the chairperson of Azerbaijani Culture Friends Foundation, the President of Azerbaijani Gymnastics Federation, and the goodwill ambassador of UNESCO and ISESCO.[1]

Family and education[edit]

Early life, family and marriage[edit]

Mehriban Aliyeva (née Pashayeva) was born in Baku, and is from a family described in leaked US Embassy cables as "the single most powerful family in Azerbaijan." Her grandfather was noted Iranian-born Azerbaijani writer Mir Jalal Pashayev. Her uncle Hafiz Pashayev was Azerbaijan's first Ambassador to the United States. Aliyeva's father Arif Pashayev is Rector of the National Aviation Academy in Baku,[2] and her mother, Aida Imanguliyeva (1939–1992) was a prominent philologist and Arabist, daughter of the prominent journalist and pedagogue Nasir Imanguliyev.[3][4]

Mehriban Aliyeva married Ilham Aliyev, the son of Heydar Aliyev, in Baku on 22 December 1983.[3] The Aliyevs have two daughters, Leyla (born 3 July 1984) and Arzu (born 23 January 1989) and a son Heydar (born 2 August 1997). Leyla is the editor of Baku magazine, published by Azerbaijani Russian businessman Aras Agalarov, and was married to his son Emin Agalarov.[5]

Education and early career[edit]

Mehriban Aliyeva finished secondary school №23 in 1982.[4] She entered the Preventive-Treatment Faculty of the Azerbaijan Medical University, in which she excelled,[6] and later continued her studies at the Sechenov Moscow Medical Academy, from which she graduated in 1988.[3][4][7] From 1988–92, Mehriban Aliyeva worked at the State Research Institute of Eye Diseases of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences in Moscow, which was led by Dr. Mikhail Krasnov.[3][8] Mrs. Aliyeva got her PhD after defending the thesis on “Euthanasia and humanism issues in medicine” in 2005.[4] Two articles in The Times in 2005 described her as a "qualified physician"[6] and "former eye doctor."[7]


Mehriban Aliyeva during her visit to France in 2012.

In 1995, she established the Azerbaijani Culture Friends Foundation.[3] In 1996, with financial support from Chevron, the foundation gave lifetime awards to six representatives of Azerbaijani art and culture. The foundation also sponsored performances in Baku of music by Antonio Vivaldi and George Gershwin.[9]

In 1996, Mehriban Aliyeva founded the magazine "Azerbaijan - Heritage" published in three languages (Azerbaijani, English and Russian) in order to promote the Azerbaijani culture.[10]

After the death of her father-in-law Heydar Aliyev in 2003, Aliyeva established, on May 10, 2004,[4] the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, which focuses on studying and holding events to promote Heydar Aliyev's political ideology. In Azerbaijan, according to a recent news article, "The HAF builds more schools than Azerbaijan's Ministry of Education, more hospitals than the Ministry of Health, and conducts more cultural events than the Ministry of Culture."[11] The Heydar Aliyev Foundation also sponsors projects outside Azerbaijan, including helping to finance renovations at the Louvre Museum, Palace of Versailles, and Strasbourg Cathedral.[11][12][13]

On 13 August 2004, Mehriban Aliyeva became a designated UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador,[4] to honor her safeguarding of the cultural heritage of Azerbaijan and promoting its oral and musical traditions.[14]

Mehriban Aliyeva was elected as a member of the Executive Committee of the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan at the 4th General Assembly of the NOC On December 28, 2004.[4][15]

Since 2004 Mrs. Aliyeva is the member of the Political Board of the New Azerbaijan Party. She was selected as the deputy chairperson of the Party in June 2013.[4][15]

On 24 November 2006, Aliyeva was awarded the title of Goodwill Ambassador of ISESCO for her attention to the children in need and help to improve their living conditions and education.[1]

Mehriban Aliyeva was appointed the chairperson of the Organizing Committee founded on January 17, 2013 by the President Ilham Aliyev, after the decision of European Olympic Committee's General Assembly on holding the 1st European Games in Baku.[4] Under the direction of Mehriban Aliyeva, Baku 2015 European Games Operations Committee (BEGOC) was formed.[16]

She became a member of the World Azerbaijanis Coordination Board according to the decision made at the 4th Congress of the World Azerbaijanis in 2016.[4][17]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Mehriban Aliyeva and Svetlana Medvedeva visiting Museum of Modern Art in Baku, 2010.

In Azerbaijan's 2005 parliamentary elections, she was elected to the National Assembly of Azerbaijan. Her candidacy was run by the New Azerbaijan Party from the Azizbeyov Second Constituency №14, was elected to the Parliament with 92.12% of the votes.[4] She had previously broken with tradition to help campaign for her husband in 2003, when he ran for President of Azerbaijan.[18] The Sunday Times, writing in 2005 about Aliyeva's decision to run for the Azerbaijani parliament, described her as already wielding "considerable influence," and the Heydar Aliyev Foundation as "a powerful and wealthy institution set up to safeguard the late president’s legacy and support a number of educational and charitable projects."[7] She was nominated from Khazar Constituency №14 in 2010 and 2015 parliamentary elections and gained 94.49% of the votes in 2010, 96,7% in 2015.[4]

During her MP period, Mehriban Aliyeva appealed to Milli Majlis for the adoption of amnesty acts on 28 May – Republic Day. As a result, in 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2016, more than 30,000 prisoners were released from different sentences.[19]

She became the head of Azerbaijan-France working group on inter-parliamentary relations according to the decision of Milli Majlis on March 4, 2016.[20]

First Vice-President[edit]

Mehriban Aliyeva during the meeting of Azerbaijan Security Council in 2017
Mehriban Aliyeva in the Azerbaijani parliament during the presidential inauguration in 2018

On 21 February 2017 she was appointed First Vice President of Azerbaijan. This was an office that was created through a constitutional referendum in 2016.[21] On 6 March 2017 Central Election Commission terminated Mehriban Aliyeva's deputy mandate per her request.[22]

Mehriban Aliyeva, as the 1st Vice President of Azerbaijan, made her official visit to France[23][24][25] on 14–15 March 2017.[26] French President François Hollande during dinner party hosted for high officials of the Republic of Azerbaijan, "our countries came closer first of all thanks to trading and cultural relations".[27][28][25]

On September 15, Mehriban Aliyeva received delegation of Japan led by Manabu Hori and discussed the relationship between Japan and Azerbaijan, cooperation in the field of oil, new PSA on joint development of “Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli” field in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea, and the possibility to collaborate in non-oil field, as tourism, agriculture, and education.[29]

First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva and President Ilham Aliyev visited USA on September 17–20, 2017 and attended 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly.[30]

Mehriban Aliyeva received the delegation of Italy led by Linda Lanzillotta, the deputy chairperson of Senate on 11 November 2017 and discussed about the relationship between these two countries, and energy security of Europe.[31][32] The First Vice-president of Azerbaijan met with Pope Francis and attended the official reception on centenary of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic held in Rome within her official visit to Italy in September 2018.[33][34][35][36]

Political repression[edit]

Mehriban has claimed that Azerbaijan is a land of political tolerance and denied that its jails are full of political prisoners. When asked about the plight of imprisoned journalist Khadija Ismayilova and human rights advocate Leyla Yunus, Mehriban did not respond.[37] Her appointment as Vice President coincided with the detention of more opposition party activists, which may have been an attempt to stifle any attempts to protest the move.[38]

High level visits[edit]

Aliyeva with Vladimir Putin in 2019.

Mehriban Aliyeva has visited many foreign countries to attend different kinds of events and to meet with high-level foreign officials. She paid trips to France, the UK, Turkey, Greece, Italy, China, Vietnam, Russia, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, Latvia, Georgia, Estonia, Switzerland, Jordan, Romania, Finland, Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Egypt, Republic of Korea, Qatar, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Croatia, Poland, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan in 2004-2014.[39]

She met with First Lady of USA Laura Bush on her visit to USA on December 7, 2006[40] and discussed USA-Azerbaijan relations, cooperation in the fields of education, healthcare and culture.[41]

In the framework of the promotion of “Baku 2015”, Mehriban Aliyeva paid a visit to Moscow on 10–11 April 2015 and attended the presentation of the event.[42][43] On her next trip to Russia in 2015, Mehriban Aliyeva took part in the celebration on the 70th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War with President Ilham Aliyev . They met with Russian President in Moscow on May 8.[44]

Mehriban Aliyeva was on a 5-day trip to Paris in September 2015, where she met with Francois Hollande, Jean Pierre Jouyet, mayor of the first Arrondissement of Paris Jean-François Legaret; addressed the opening events of the “Azerbaijan-the country of tolerance” photo-exhibition, “Azerbaijani Village”, and the conference on “Religious tolerance: the culture of coexistence in Azerbaijan.[45]

She visited Turkey to participate the G-20 Summit in Antalya,[46][47] as well as France to attend the Leaders’ Forum of the 38th Session of UNESCO General Conference in November 2015 with President Ilham Aliyev.[48][49] Her next trip to France in 2015 was in December to participate in the UN Conference on “Innovative approaches for low carbon development and sustainable environment".

Mehriban Aliyeva paid a visit to Vatican on February 23, 2016 and was at the Pio-Clementino Museum to view samples of art recovered with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation chaired by her. She also reviewed closets being restored with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation at the Apostolic Library and had a meeting with Director of Vatican's Museum Antonio Paolucci, Vatican's state governor, cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, President of Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture Gianfranco Ravasi. Mrs. Aliyeva and Gianfranco Ravasi signed an agreement on recovering Saint Sebastian tombs. Moreover, she addressed the opening ceremony of the Saints Marcellinus and Peter catacombs restored by the initiative of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.[50][51] The opening ceremony of Saint Sebastian tombs was conducted on September 26, 2018 in the presence of Mehriban Aliyeva.[52][53][54]

During her trip to Bulgaria, Aliyeva took part in the opening of “Trapezitsa” Architectural Museum Reserve organized with the support of Heydar Aliyev Foundation in the city of Veliko Tarnovo on September 22, 2016.[55] In November 2019, she undertook her first official state visit to Russia, holding bilateral talks with President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. While at the presidential residence of Novo-Ogaryovo, she was awarded the Order of Friendship by President Putin.[56] During the visit, she also laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Personal life[edit]

Aliyeva with her husband and daughter Leyla in Davos, 2019

Aliyeva has undergone extensive plastic surgery to the point where it has obstructed her normal facial expressions, according to documents released as part of WikiLeaks.[57] During a Baku visit, US officials were unable to immediately distinguish Aliyeva from her two daughters Arzu and Leyla thanks to the extensive operations.[57]

Awards and honours[edit]

National honours and medals[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

International organizations[edit]

Honorary degrees[edit]


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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Zarifa Aliyeva
First Lady of Azerbaijan
Preceded by
Position established
Vice President of Azerbaijan