Azerbaijan continues notorious Caviar Diplomacy for bribing European officials, but more cautiously – warns expert
YEREVAN, JULY 18, ARMENPRESS. The Azerbaijani government has been bribing European lawmakers in an attempt to conceal its poor human rights record.
Azerbaijan's infamous “Caviar Diplomacy” of systematic bribing to downplay its human rights record has led to investigations and convictions.
The European Parliament adopted a resolution on July 13 on recommendations for reform of the European Parliament’s rules on transparency, integrity, accountability and anti-corruption.
The resolution mentions violations by various countries and organizations, including the Azerbaijani government’s actions.
“…whereas Azerbaijan has conducted large-scale influence operations, involving strong suspicions of corruption, against members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe; whereas Azerbaijan has managed to avert probes into its elections and whitewash its human rights record,” reads clause T of the resolution.
Speaking to ARMENPRESS, expert on Azerbaijan, former MP and former Armenian delegate to PACE Tatev Hayrapetyan warned that Azerbaijan will continue its practices of bribing European officials, but more cautiously.
“The scandalous reports prove that Azerbaijan’s actions in PACE involve a broad network and that the head of the Azerbaijani delegation Samad Seyidov is directly involved in criminal activity. When we were going to Strasbourg the Azerbaijanis were already acting very cautiously. Nonetheless, the facts remain and Seyidov continues to lead the Azerbaijani delegation,” Hayrapetyan told ARMENPRESS.
With the scandalous ousting of Pedro Agramunt as President of PACE in 2017 not stopping the practices of the Aliyev regime, the Caviar Diplomacy continues to this day, the expert on Azerbaijan warned.
Agramunt and many other officials served at PACE for a long time and their partiality contributed to pro-Azeri wordings which did not reflect the situation neither on Azeri domestic developments not around the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Eventually all packages are collected and Baku makes a tool out of it. The facts are disclosed, perpetrators are prosecuted, but the huge damage remains, she said.
“Azerbaijan isn’t criticized for its numerous political prisoners and human rights violations, whereas European countries get lambasted for the same occurrences. Turns out there are good and bad despots for Europe, with Aliyev being the so-called acceptable despot in this case, which in turn unleashes him even more in our region. Moreover, the Azerbaijanis show that the PACE resolutions mean nothing to them, they disregard the organizations where they themselves have membership. Should these organizations display principled approach, they would have considered ousting or suspending Azerbaijan, forcing Azerbaijan to respect the European resolutions,” Hayrapetyan said.
If the briber remains unpunished and those involved in scandals remain in office, then we are dealing with a unilateral punishment, when only those who are bribed are being punished. But this doesn’t mean that the bribers will stop, the expert said.
She warned that the Azerbaijanis will act more cautiously to try to find alternative sources.
On one hand the fact of bribery exists, but on the other hand the representatives of the democratic Europe travel to Baku to shake President Aliyev’s hand and describe him as a “reliable partner” in the context of diversifying gas supplies, whereas this is in parallel with the “gas bluff” topic, which to some extent impacts the EU policy in South Caucasus.
But facts show that Azerbaijan doesn’t even have the required gas reserves to supply the necessary volumes to entire Europe. Azerbaijan itself is buying gas from Iran, Turkmenistan, Russia, and is often re-selling Russian gas. Hayrapetyan said that this major deal involves the Europeans thinking that they are diversifying Russian gas by using Azeri gas, but are actually using Russian energy carrier, which is supplied via Azeri pipelines.
“It’s absurd that Europe is sanctioning Russia but is supporting the aggressor, dictatorial Azerbaijan in South Caucasus, showing that Azerbaijan is its partner in our region. EU has always had reforms agendas with Armenia and Georgia, and an energy cooperation agenda with Azerbaijan, whereas reforms have no effect in case of Azerbaijan,” the expert said.