Azerbaijan’s “caviar diplomacy”: Is corruption flourishing in the Council of Europe?
REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA, 26 May 2012, 08:09 am – REGNUM
The European Stability Initiative has published a report entitled “Caviar Diplomacy. How Azerbaijan Silenced the Council of Europe.
In the 36-page report, European analysts describe the tools used by the Azerbaijani authorities to influence European politicians, specifically, how they forced PACE to turn a blind eye to all kinds of violations in Azerbaijan, mainly how Azerbaijan “turned international monitoring into a theater performance” during the elections.
According to the document, the so-called “caviar diplomacy” of Azerbaijan began in 2001, when the country became a member of the Council of Europe, and gained momentum after Ilham Aliyev who worked in PACE became the President of Azerbaijan in 2003. According to the experts, it reached its peak after the completion of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline in 2005, when “the treasury of the Azerbaijani state started to be bathed in oil revenues.
According to the European analysts, the manifestation of “Caviar diplomacy” is not only the use of energy resources for their political purposes, but also the usual gifts in the form of sturgeon caviar from the authorities of this country to the PACE members in exchange for their loyalty. As they note, not everyone defended Azerbaijan in PACE based on material interest, some did so based on geopolitical interests, but there are many indications that corruption played a role in deflecting PACE from its responsibilities.
“Outside the Council of Europe, the level of democracy in Azerbaijan is seriously challenged. Even its great admirers admit that, at best, Azerbaijan is dominated by a semi-authoritarian regime. Azerbaijan has not held competitive elections since current President Ilham Aliyev’s father, Heydar Aliyev, came to power in 1993 after a coup against the first elected president,” the report says.
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