L’OBS by Céline Lussato
Défenseure du régime Aliev en Azerbaïdjan, la sénatrice Nathalie Goulet, dont nous avions mis en évidence les financements azéris dans les communes de son département, a décidé de rompre ses liens financiers avec Bakou. Elle nous explique pourquoi.
Article on L’OBS
I will no longer appeal to the funds of the Aliev Foundation
A defender of the Aliev regime in Azerbaijan, Senator Nathalie Goulet, whose Azeri funding in the communes of her department we had highlighted, has decided to break her financial ties with Baku. She explains why.
A few months ago, we mentioned the funding in your department by the Heydar Aliev Foundation chaired by the First Lady Mehriban Alieva. Since then, you seem to have evolved on the issue?
– I am fed up with being seen as a corrupt person bought by Baku, so I will not take the money offered by the Aliev Foundation for my department, neither next year nor the following ones. I regret this because the people who will suffer are those in my department who want to repair their churches, because the money was used for this purpose. But, after a while, while I was the first elected official to publish my declaration of assets in France, I am fed up with being accused personally because I accept Azeri funds for my constituents, and through the Fondation du Patrimoine.
But you understand that defending a country decried for its lack of respect for human rights while accepting funding from it was, to say the least, a strange mix of genres?
– I have been working with Azerbaijan for 20 years and my department has been receiving grants from the Aliev Foundation for three years. But I don’t want my political work to be polluted by grants that I would get for my department. So that’s it.
So you’re going to look for other sources of funding?
– Finding funds today for small communities is extremely complicated, if not impossible. Who is going to give money to repair the eleventh-century church of a commune of 300 inhabitants? Within the framework of the files of patronage, it is necessary to wait five years. No one cares about our heritage. What big company is going to put its name on the square of a town of 75 inhabitants when it can finance such a meeting of the women of tomorrow in a big city of France with the publicity that it brings in return? There is no solution. I appeal to all the Foundations: we have a terrible need for financing in our small communes!
As for your position on Azerbaijan, which is still being criticized for its lack of press freedom and the imprisonment of its political opponents?
– You can’t systematically bash this small republic without also highlighting the positive things that are happening in this country. I will defend Azerbaijan tooth and nail as long as I think they are fit to be defended and I still think that there is progress being made in the country no matter what people say.
And then I think there are methods. The increasing attacks on Azerbaijan are too much. If there is no evolution in the country, I will obviously take my distance. But until now I think that they have progressed even if it is far from perfect.
Interview by Céline Lussato