Politics 18:51 28/05/2012

Caviar Diplomacy: How Azerbaijan Silenced the Council of Europe

According to Golos Armenii, the European Stability Initiative (http://www.esiweb.org) published on May 24 an extremely interesting document titled “Caviar Diplomacy: How Azerbaijan Silenced the Council of Europe.” This report looks really sensational, even on the background of unprecedented squall of critical publications and assessments in world press as well as those made by various organizations regarding the holding of Eurovision Song Contest in Baku.

Golos Armenii reports that The Financial Times expressed surprise at the fact that Azerbaijan remains a member of the Council of Europe. ESI report gives an exhaustive answer about its reasons. There is evidence of it already at the beginning of the report, featuring photos of members of PACE, who in various years were linked with monitoring in Azerbaijan, divided into “apologists” and “critics.” Authors trace Azerbaijan’s 12-year membership in the Council of Europe in the context of elections, showing the silencing process of European MPs and giving shocking details of how corruption began to flourish when Azerbaijan was admitted to the Council of Europe as well as presenting the results of the spread of the practice of bribing PACE members.

Many PACE members’ first greeting, after 'Hello', is 'Where is the caviar?'” Giving presents is part of traditional Azerbaijani culture, however, gifts often imply paying a high price later. A book dedicated to the traditions and culture of Azerbaijan says that generosity to guests and friends implies return. Azerbaijani officials refer to it as "caviar diplomacy": a policy that began in 2001, not long after Azerbaijan joined the Council of Europe. It gathered speed after Ilham Aliyev became president of Azerbaijan in 2003. Once the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline was completed in 2005 and the Azerbaijani state coffers were awash in oil revenues, the "caviar policy" shifted into top gear, the report said.

Also, the report dwells on the “worst” elections in the history of PACE in Azerbaijan in 2010 and presents Baku’s non-fulfilled commitments towards the Council of Europe. Most importantly, the report traces a fight between critics and apologists of Baku regime, with Mevlut Cavusoglu and Mike Hancock mentioned among the apologists. 

Source Panorama.am
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