European analysts criticize Baku’s “caviar diplomacy”
The Azerbaijani authorities are trying to silence critics and buy the loyalty of Council of Europe members with expensive gifts and black sturgeon caviar, according to a report titled “Caviar Diplomacy” by the nonprofit organization European Stability Initiative.
Baku calls the accusations absurd. A spokesman for the Council of Europe told the BBC it would not comment on the corruption allegations.
The report says that Council of Europe members friendly to Azerbaijan turn a blind eye to human rights violations and receive sturgeon caviar, silk carpets, gold and silver jewelry and other rich gifts from Baku in return.
The report “Caviar Diplomacy. How Azerbaijan Silenced the Council of Europe” is based on a series of interviews with officials in Azerbaijan and several European states.
An Azerbaijani opposition group presented the report Monday in the British Parliament.
Individual Council of Europe officials are expected to comment on the report, according to a Council of Europe spokesman. A spokesman for Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry rejected the accusations, calling them absurd.
According to him, there is indeed an exchange of gifts, but “it is a normal practice within the framework of diplomatic protocol.
The representative of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry insisted that the value of gifts never exceeded the amount stipulated by law.
“The information that expensive gifts are given has nothing to do with reality,” said Elman Abdulayev.
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